Wristband-style activity tracking devices can already measure things like how much exercise you get each day, thanks partly to their built-in accelerometers. The engineers at 3L Labs, however, claim that their FootLoggers insoles can do even more. Each device utilizes not only a three-axis accelerometer, but also eight pressure sensors.
To use FootLoggers, you start by putting a pair of them in your shoes – they're reportedly fairly lightweight and unobtrusive. You then proceed to exercise, perform your chosen sport or go about your regular daily activities, depending on the application. Each insole can log up to 50,000 footprints on its built-in flash memory, and run for at least 24 hours per charge of its integrated battery.
When you're done for the day, you take your shoes off and place them on the accompanying ShoeStation. This docking device detects the insoles through the soles of the shoes, and starts wirelessly recharging them – it has a range of 50 mm.
At the same time, the insoles automatically transmit their stored data to the ShoeStation via Bluetooth. The station proceeds to send that information to 3L Labs' internet-based server, where it's analyzed. The results are then sent back to you and/or someone else (such as a coach) via SMS or a dedicated smartphone app.
Fairly obviously, the FootLogger can serve as a high-tech pedometer that records stats like distance traveled and calories burned. The arrangement of its multiple pressure sensors, however, also allows it to map how the user's weight is distributed with each step. This makes a variety of applications possible.
For athletes, the technology can show if they're placing and transferring their weight correctly, such as in a running stride or a golf swing. In the field of healthcare, the insoles can reportedly be used for things like gait assessment, fall detection, rehabilitation monitoring, and early prediction of conditions such as dementia or spinal disease.
Finally, as with just about every other form of emerging technology, they could also conceivably find use as gaming input devices.
The FootLogger system should be commercially available in the second half of the year, with prices starting at about US$100. Interested parties might also want to check out Fraunhofer's smart running shoe or Adidas' adizero f50 football boot.
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